The Estonian men's national basketball team lost their opening group game at the Eurobasket 2022 championships in Milan losing to hosts Italy 62:83 (21:18, 21:15, 17:19, 14:10).
Team coach Jukka Toijala said post-match that the Italians had played well, but unfortunately the level difference was as it was.
He said: "They are a very high-quality team and move the ball well. All credit to them, they played well. Today saw such a difference in level."
Team captain Kerr Kriisa said: " We played with passion... The tournament still has a long way to go We needed to prove ourselves at the personal level, but that doesn't really count," adding his appreciation for Estonian supporters in the crowd.
"I'm proud to be Estonian, as small a nation as we are. I could hear the Estonian people, and that only makes me feel good. It gave me the chills," Kriisa went on.
In the first quarter, scores were tied 10:10 at one point, and again at 15:15, but the hosts pulled ahead to take things to 21:18.
Italy stepped up a notch in the second quarter, going 14:0 up without answer, and while the visitors closed that gap later, the half closed out with Italy 52:33 up.
This had the effect of reducing tension somewhat, which may have contributed to Estonia winning the third quarter 19:17, though still 17 points behind Italy going into the final quarter.
The last period was lower scoring with plenty of substitutions made, but Italy still managed to put 14 points together to Estonia's 10, to take the match 83:62.
Kerr Kriisa took 20 points in total, the only Estonian to reach double-digits.
Estonia faces Ukraine, who just defeated Great Britain 90:61, in its next Group C clash, on Saturday.
Group C matches are being played at the Mediolanum Forum in Milan, Italy, while other group phases are also being played in the Czech Republic, Georgia and Germany, which will also host the knockout rounds.
Editor: Andrew Whyte